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Building Collapse in TX Injures 5

Thursday, June 27, 2013

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Federal safety authorities are investigating the cause of a building collapse that injured five construction workers, three critically, at a Texas A&M University campus.

Authorities said four workers were injured when a steel building frame at the Texas A&M Equestrian Complex under construction in College Station, TX, crashed down just before 11 a.m. Saturday (June 22).

Texas A&M University barn collapse in College Station

Workers were elevated, in lifts or cherry pickers, to secure the steel frame of a building at the Texas A&M University Equestrian Complex in College Station, TX, when it collapsed.

Local hospitals, however, reported treating five workers in connection with the accident.

The collapsed structure was a barn about 300 feet long, one of eight buildings under construction at the new equine complex. The general contractor on the project is Gamma Construction Company, of Houston.

Construction on the $80 million complex, which started last October, was halted following the cave-in.

The cause of the collapse was not immediately known. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Texas A&M University Police Department were among the agencies investigating the incident.

The Collapse

The injured workers were among several dozen working at the site at the time, reports said.

The workers had been “elevated, in lifts or cherry pickers, securing the steel frame when it collapsed,” and were not trapped under the steel, College Station Fire Department spokesperson Bart Humphreys told reporters.

Collapse in Texas

The structure that collapsed was one of eight being constructed at the $80 million equine complex.

Authorities said three of the injured workers were initially listed in critical condition on Saturday; however, two were later released from the hospital, according to Tuesday’s news reports. The remaining worker was reportedly in fair condition Tuesday. The other victims were reportedly released Sunday and Monday.

Reports said those injured were Jose Santos Argueta, 35; Jonathan Hernandez, 22; Brian Pineda-Palma, 22; a 32-year-old man; and one other unidentified worker.

Officials did not immediately respond to a request for more information.

The injured workers were employed by subcontractor Ramco Erectors Inc., of Houston, according to reports.  

Suspended Rescue

After the collapse, rescue operations were suspended at the site, due to concerns over the structure’s integrity.

A statement by College State Fire Department said, in part, “[R]escue efforts were suspended until the remainder of the structure that was still standing could be stabilized.

“After the structure was secure, a secondary search of the area was conducted to ensure that all [victims] had been located.”

Contractor: Project was ‘Smooth’

Tom Hansen, senior vice president for Gamma Construction, told local news reporters that the project had been going well before Saturday, with no delays.

“It was actually going pretty smoothly,” he told The Eagle.

Texas A&M officials told reporters that the complex was Gamma Construction’s first project for the university; the contractor is headed by Aggie alumnus and donor Keith Williams, they said.

Gamma Construction

The facility will consolidate academic programs, clubs and associations into one location, according to Gamma Construction's website. The project began last fall.

The facility will house Texas A&M equestrian team and Parsons Mounted Cavalry, a cross-country course and an equine science education, research and outreach center, according to a university news release. The first phase of the project was set to be completed in 2014.

Founded in 1985, Gamma Construction’s project portfolio includes schools, healthcare facilities, department stores, restaurants, and offices across Texas and Colorado.

The company has offices in Houston, San Antonio, and Denver.

OSHA Records

Gamma Construction has a record of past violations with OSHA, according to the agency’s database.

The most recent cases include one from February 2012, where the company was fined $3,600 for fall protection and respiratory hazards at a jobsite in Texas City, TX. That fine was informally settled for $1,800.

In August 2012, OSHA hit the company with a $7,000 fine for repeat fall protection hazards at a job site in Houston. In August 2011, Gamma was also fined $3,442, later dropped to $2,409, for serious fall protection hazards at a work site in Rosharon, TX.

Ramco Erectors also has a record with OSHA. For instance, in November 2012, the company was fined $6,930, later reduced to $3,465, for three serious and other-than-serious workplace safety violations relating to rigging equipment for material handling.

Neither Gamma Construction nor Ramco Erectors responded to a request for comment Wednesday.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Commercial Construction; Contractors; Education; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; Stadiums/Sports Facilities; Steel

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